As we close in on the NFL Draft, I wanted to focus on a couple of teams that the Quad Cities generally root for in the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.
We’ll start with the Bears first-round pick, as that will affect other dominoes that could fall.
The format is pretty straightforward. We will go through the scenarios if the Bears and Packers trade up, trade down, or stay put. We’ll define giving up a first for a player as trading down. Chicago selects at 20, while Green Bay makes it pick at 29.
The draft is the one time of year where NFL teams tell the truth. If they don’t trust their quarterback, they’ll select one. Who they select and when can be very telling.
- A real GM/Coach/Front Office: I’m only 40 percent kidding here, but the Bears brass has to absolutely nail this draft, or they could be searching for new jobs come Black Monday, if not before.
- Quarterback: No one in the contiguous 48 believes that Andy Dalton or Nick Foles is the answer at the position. They need to get younger and better.
- Offensive line: No mystery here. The line was bad last year and some of the pieces are…terrible. There is no depth and not very much talent.
- Cornerback: For reasons that are a mystery to most Bears fans, Ryan Pace let his second-best defensive player walk out the door in the form of Kyle Fuller. They also cut Buster Skrine, who played the nickel (very badly). Those are two starters that need to be replaced.
Normally, I’m a “swing for the fences” kind of guy. I, like most fans, like the splashy picks and signings. However, with a roster this leaky, I wouldn’t advocate for that. The Bears need bodies, and they better be able to play. Packaging picks to move up will not help the overall talent level on this team.
If Chicago chooses to move up, it has to be for a quarterback. With Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson seemingly locked into the first two picks, that leaves Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones in some kind of order. If mock drafters are to be believed, Fields is the one most likely to slide. The price tag to get to No. 4 with Atlanta is probably out of reach. That would mean that getting to No. 8 with Carolina would be the target. Rumors are swirling that New England is trying to move up to take a QB as well.
The most likely scenario that would cause the Bears to move up is that the leftover quarterback slides into that 11-19 range, probably 13-18 more specifically. That would require some luck, and the Bears haven’t had much of that in the draft in recent years.
I’ll be honest. Pace might gamble by sitting tight and seeing what falls to him at the 20th pick. One of the quarterbacks might fall a la Aaron Rodgers. Weird crap happens on draft night. Hell, the Vikings missed their own pick once.
More likely, however, would be the Bears sit tight and select an offensive lineman. In my latest mock, I have Chicago picking at 20 and taking Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins. This allows them to not spend draft capital they don’t have and still select a need. This year’s class of offensive linemen is supposed to be deep, so a case can be made to grab another position and take your lineman later.
I’ve seen other mocks that project a cornerback here. The cornerback selected would instantly be compared to Fuller and that wouldn’t be fair to that person.
I have a hard time seeing cornerback come to fruition unless every decent quarterback and offensive lineman goes first. In that scenario, one of the game-changing wideouts falls, and Pace & Co. should pull the trigger on that immediately.
I just can’t see this happening. Pace and Matt Nagy are drafting for their jobs. Normally sliding back and acquiring more picks is prudent, especially when the roster is lacking as much as this one. But there’s enough pressure from the media and fans that this would get booed more than a rate hike by the cable company.
The one deal I would be ok with is if the Bears landed something like the 31-34th pick this year and a first next year. You could sell this to the fanbase that the quarterbacks are on a short leash and then Chicago would have the firepower next year to get their QB of the future.
I did add the “trade the pick for a player” clause in the opening paragraphs in case the front office manages to pull off a deal that we don’t know about yet. The Bears were aggressive in their pursuit of Russell Wilson even though they didn’t land that prize. There’s always a deal that goes down on draft day or the night before that involves moving a player. If Chicago is the team to land, say, Matt Ryan for the 20th pick, and then the Falcons take a quarterback at No. 4, that’s the kind of deal that works. (Yes, I know it won’t happen. Work with me here.)
Ultimately, I think the Bears will stay put at 20 or only move up a couple of spots. I would be shocked if the Bears brass got their act together and made a real smart play in this draft. Most likely, they’ll take someone underwhelming and Chicago fans will be drunk by the time the first round is over.